Fly-Tying Hair & Fur (2024)

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Synthetic Zonker

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Fulling Mill Barred Rabbit Zonkers

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Fulling Mill Rabbit Zonkers

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Fulling Mill Crosscut Rabbit Zonkers

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Fulling Mill Big Game Rabbit Zonkers

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Pine Squirrel Skin Zonkered

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EP Craftfur Brush 3" Wide

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Bling Rabbit Strips

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Polar Fiber Craft Fur

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Elk Hair

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Hare’s Mask w/ Ears

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Synthetic Yak Hair

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EP Foxy Brush 3" Wide

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Calf Body Hair

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Yearling Elk

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Fish Skull Faux Bucktail

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Grizzly Hair 16"

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Barred Zonker Strips

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Crosscut Rabbit

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FAQS

Basic fly-tying materials include hooks, thread, dubbing, tungsten beads, deer and elk hair, feathers, marabou, hackle, tailing wire, fly wire, head cement, and dubbing wax. Keep in mind that these are your essential starter fly-tying materials to cook up standard recipes for top wet flies, dries, and nymphs. If you’re getting serious about tying flies, you’ll need foam for terrestrial patterns, flash or tinsel, soft hackle, body parts, eyes, floss, and varying thread sizes, colors, and weights.

The best fly-tying thread for smaller flies is 8/0 (eight aught) or 70 denier, and 3/0 (three aught) or 210 denier for larger flies. You’ll find the best-quality fly-tying thread in this collection, whether you’re cooking up tiny midges or larger streamer patterns.

While sewing thread may make affordable and useful practice thread while you’re getting used to the intricacies of fly tying, we do not recommend using it for flies you intend to fish. Sewing thread is not durable enough. It rots quickly and usually breaks away after only a few uses.

The best feathers for fly tying are high-quality, natural-looking feathers that will give your patterns a lifelike look. The type of feather you use depends on the pattern. Flowy ostrich marabou creates movement for effective wet flies, but you’ll want to use buoyant, fluffy cul-de-canard feathers for emergers, dry flies, and nymphs. Similarly, stiffer center tail pheasant feathers work great to dress up salmon or steelhead flies. There are several types of feathers used in fly tying, and each is the best for its specific purpose.

You can use many types of feathers in fly tying, but a “feather is a feather” philosophy won’t work. Feathers are not automatically interchangeable. Specific types of feathers create specific types of looks and movements on a fly, so you can’t achieve the same effect with a blue jay feather you found in the yard as you can with a peaco*ck quill or barred marabou.

Once you know your pattern, you’ll know what hook size you need, which dictates the bead size. The bead size needs to match the hook size, and there are differences between cyclops (countersunk) beads, slotted tungsten beads, and cones. For example, on a #10 hook, you’ll need a 3.3mm countersunk bead but a 4.6mm bead if you’re using slotted tungsten. We keep a hook-to-bead size chart handy because trying to memorize which types of beads go with which types of hooks can be frustrating if you’re tying several different-sized patterns.

For natural materials like feathers and hair, as well as thread, hooks, and beads, you should always purchase your fly-tying materials from a fly shop or fly-tying materials retailer. There can be a great difference in caliber of these materials, and those sold by fly shops are selected for their fly-tying quality. Many fly tyers will recommend going a step further and hand-selecting your materials at a fly shop in person. This way, you know the materials will meet your needs. Synthetic materials can vary in quality too, but tyers are often less choosy about selecting some synthetics. The benefit of buying synthetic materials from a fly shop is that the sizes, colors, flexibility, durability, and other important properties will be pre-selected for use in fly tying.

High-Quality Natural & Synthetic Hair & Fur for Fly Tying

Find the best collection of hair and fur materials for tying lifelike flies at Orvis. Discover premium choices among real animal fur and hair, including prime selections of rabbit, elk hair, goat, and calf, to create irresistible dry and wet flies as well as streamers and zonkers. Our options in high-quality synthetics give fly tyers the lifelike movement they seek as well as a variety of colors to convince even the spookiest of fish. From faux bucktail to real deer belly hair, stock your station with the exact fibers you need to cook up lifelike bass bugs, hoppers, terrestrials, midges, caddis, and mayflies. Our hair and fur fly-tying materials are ideal for creating patterns that target a range of species, and you’ll find fur and brush strips in various sizes for small to large streamer patterns for attracting big gamefish. For the best selection of body and wing fly-tying materials, browse our full Hair & Fur collection.

Fly-Tying Hair & Fur (2024)

FAQs

What is the best hair for tying flies? ›

Elk hair is perhaps the most useable of all hairs for fly tying. Whether from a bull, cow, or yearling elk, this versatile hair has a beautiful range of colors. I use elk in every application that I can, because it is so commonly available and generally durable and of good quality.

How much does it cost to start tying flies? ›

If you are a casual fly angler who fishes a dozen times a year and has a good local fly shop, I'd say fly tying is a poor investment. You will probably spend about $400 dollars to start fly tying if you're doing it right, and if you have good impulse control. You can buy a lot of flies for $400.

Is tying flies cheaper than buying them? ›

The article goes on to say that the cost of purchasing the needed vice, tools and materials would counter the savings of tying one's own flies.

Can you use horse hair for fly tying? ›

Horses have also made a contribution to fly fishing, and fly tying over the years. Horsehair is also finding its way into modern flies. But it was not just any horsehair. The best material is from horses in Iceland.

Is elk hair better than deer hair for fly tying? ›

Elk hair is much coarser and flares less than deer hair, which gives it good qualities for wings on bigger dries such as salmonfly or green drake imitations. Elk hair is also more durable than deer hair, which makes it good for tails on things like hare's ear nymphs or green drake dries.

What can you use instead of moose hair for fly tying? ›

Elk mane is very long, dark, and stiff, and makes great tails for dry flies. It can be used as a substitute on any pattern that calls for moose mane. Elk hock is similar in color but shorter and finer, so it is better for dark tails on smaller flies.

What is the easiest fly to tie for beginners? ›

3 easy flies to tie for beginners (with videos)
  1. Streamer: Woolly Bugger. The Woolly Bugger is a versatile and easy-to-tie pattern that imitates a variety of prey, from leeches to small baitfish. ...
  2. Dry Fly: Elk Hair Caddis. The Elk Hair Caddis is an effective dry fly that mimics adult caddisflies. ...
  3. Nymph: Squirminator.
Apr 2, 2023

Is fly tying an expensive hobby? ›

Fly tying is not cheap but if you consider that a fly would cost you $2.50 more to buy than tie after paying for hooks and materials; you have 120 flies or 10 dozen flies tied up in tools. At $450 in tools, it rises to 180 flies or 15 dozen flies store-bought flies. Of course your first few (many?)

What is a good substitute for fly tying material? ›

Alternative fly tying materials like Fly fishing hooks, dubbing, feathers, beads, cones, tools, and more can be substituted and save a lot of money; if you know what you're doing.

How long does it take to tie a fly? ›

It depends on the pattern, but I can tie between 9 flies an hour to 2 dozen in an hour. The Rubber Leg Tellico Nymph is one of my slowest since it has so many steps. Standard parachute patterns and beadheads are much faster.

Is fly tying difficult? ›

Fly tying is a craft, a skill learned over time. You don't start out being great at it, so don't be hard on yourself if you're not churning out beautiful patterns right away. You'll get better, trust me. The more you do it, and the more you enjoy it, the more proficient you'll become.

What kind of yarn do you use for fly tying? ›

egg fly tying yarns have a high polyester content. The fiber is ideal for this purpose; colors can be great and reflectivity is not what's desired. Other common fibers such as rayons are weaker than polyester and lack qualities fly tyers seek. Polyester fibers can be soft, although not as soft as nylon.

What is the best tail material for fly tying? ›

The tail feathers of peaco*ck and pheasant have become a real fly tying classic, which is irreplaceable for many patterns of dry and wet flies. You can not do without these fly tying materials even in the production of modern nymphs. Peaco*ck feathers are the right choice for the creation of red tags and orange tags.

What is Bucktail used for in fly tying? ›

Streamers: Step-by-step fly tying instructions

This simple and minimal weighted streamer uses bucktail as its primary material. Like most bucktail flies, the Bucktail Baitfish offers fly tiers tremendous versatility in the range of sizes and colors it can be tied in.

What feathers are good for fly tying? ›

Feathers from drake wood ducks, mallards, and green-winged teal are by far the most popular, mostly due to their coloration and abundance. The “lemon” flank feathers from a wood duck are prized for their color and barring.

What is the strongest fly tying thread? ›

Specialty Threads for Fly Tying. GSP (gel-spun polyethylene) threads are super slick, strong for their size, have very little stretch (3 percent), and lie flat on the hook.

What attracts flies to hair? ›

Flies feed on dead cells and open wounds. Oily hair is an attractant. Less hairy skin gives the fly spaces to vomit. Some body-odours are more attractive to flies than others.

What is the strongest fly tying knot? ›

Whatever name you choose to call it, the Pitzen Knot it is an incredibly effective way to tie a fly to leader. It's kind of a reverse clinch knot, however it is many times stronger - the clinch is actually one of the weakest fly to tippet knots there is.

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